The Idriss Stelley Foundation (ISF) is a nonprofit organization created through the wrongful death settlement of the Irizarry vs. SF City & County and SFPD case, and its allocation to his mother Mesha Monge-Irizarry. Her only child, a 23 year old African American honor student, was killed by SFPD at the SF Sony Metreon Complex on June 12, 2001. Forty-eight shots were fired by nine officers, as “Brother E” stood alone, in an emptied movie theater, while experiencing a mental health crisis. Idriss Stelley’s case is at the root of the 40-hour mandatory SFPD Mental Health Training, ratified in SF in March 2002, and of the SF Police reform (Prop H, restructuring of the SF Police Commission), that won by a substantial margin on the November SF ballot of 2004, in spite of the SF Police Officer’s Association opposition and their exhorbitant financial backing to defeat the proposition.
Mesha opened the Idriss Stelley Action Resource Center in May of 2008. It is located in the heart of the SF Mission district, in Suite #209 of the Redstone Building at 2940 16th Street (corner of Capp Street, half a block east from 16th Street BART Station). ISF provides free, confidential services to biological and extended families whose loved ones have been disabled or killed by law enforcement, to survivors of police misconduct, and to social/racial justice activists, both locally and nationwide. For an appointment, please call (415) 595-8251.
ISF has published regular social and racial justice articles in the SF Bay View National Black Newspaper–at no cost to the editor–since 2001. ISF hosted its own radio station in Bayview, “SF Village Voice,” until February 2008, as well as hosting weekly shows on BVHP Community Radio and Enemy Combatant Radio at Indybay. Among other social justice events, ISF has hosted “Shape Up or Ship Out SFPD” in the SF Bayview District and “Bang4Change Civil Rights Revival 2006 Fest” in front of SF City Hall that drew over 1000 attendees.
ISF gave a presentation at the Oakland Peoples’ Tribunal earlier this year (for the second year in a row) and presented two seminars at the last Critical Resistance National Conference in Oakland, as well as at the first National Copwatch Conference in 2009, also in Oakland. For 3 years while still based in the SF Bayview District, ISF hosted the African American Community Policing Relations Executive Board, and the Bayview Campaign to End the Death Penalty.Since ISF opened its doors in August 2002, the agency has provided services to over 6,000 individuals and families in the Greater Bay Area, and across the nation. ISF is a work ally of the Copwatch national movement, of the Bay Area Police Accountability Coalition, and of Black Cops Against Police Brutality. Recently, ISF helped organize the “End Police Terror against the Disabled” in San Francisco on MLK Day 2011. ISF is also actively involved in the movements to repeal San Francisco’s Sit/Lie Ordinance, and is on the task force opposing a Taser contract for SFPD.
ISF moderates over 160 yahoogroups for individuals and families impacted by police violence to grow their support and help organize and host their grassroots justice rallies and protests.
Low cost professional Spanish-French-English translation services are offered on a sliding scale, which is often ISF’s only source of income to cover office rent and client services. Sliding scale interpersonal relations mediation is also available, as well as peer couples’ counseling, one on one and family counseling, harm reduction counseling, a Victory Over Violence support group, Targeted Individuals Empowering Collective for victims and survivors of electronic torture and gang stalking, Know Your Rights interactive workshops, and seminars on cultural awareness, grassroots organizational behaviors, and strategical planning, Private mediations between police captains and city residents (when they do not wish for a lengthy legal process) can be facilitated until apologies or a satifactory compromise is reached and staff are available to accompany family members to court proceedings for emotional support. These services are free or low cost, depending on the agencies or individuals respective budgets (ISF conducted such 2-day seminars for Code Pink, Global Exchange, Labor Against The War, and Third Baptist Church.) ISF also set up the organizational structure of FORWARD (and serves on its advisory board) direct services for Fanilies of Parolees, which has met monthly since October 2008 at ISF office.
ISF’s founder, Mesha Monge-Irizarry, has been a City Commissioner since September 2008 on the Marijuana Offenses Overview Committee (monitoring and enforcing the Lowest Priority Ordinance on cannabis offenses), and the Co-Chair of Black & Brown Just Drug Policies Coalition with Greg Ledbetter of Axis of Love. Mesha is also the Co-Director of SF Education Not Incarceration with Jeremy Miller, sister agency of ISF, which shares their office space. Mesha serves as a member of the Speaker Bureau of the SF Mental Health Association, which offers keynote speakers to educate professionals and community groups on the day to day realities of mental illness, and the road to recovery within competent cultural norms.
In time of a crunch, on short notice, ISF can accommodate other task forces for their meetings in the afternom ot evening, at no cost, for a maximum capacity 20 people, with refreshments and snacks provided. Pro bono civil rights attorney referrals and high school internships are available. Mesha is even willing to give basic internet training and resume writing assistance.
In Mama Mesha’s own words: “This is what my son Idriss would like me to do…He has not died in vain. Although it is not about him any longer per se, it is about the struggle to End the War against the Poor, Black & Brown! I am not anti-cop, but pro law enforcement transparency and accountability, and community safekeeping, through Serving and Protecting EACH OTHER…NO MORE STOLEN LIVES! Ain’t No Power like DA Power of the People cuz the Power of the People won’t stop!”